One of the more interesting characters I have met in my life is my second cousin twice-removed Rufus A. Doolittle. No matter how many times the family removed him he just kept coming back. If you meet Rufus on the street, he will always have on his old blue Bibb overalls covering nearly 300 pounds of his favorite dishes. He always said he was built more for comfort than for speed.
He wears an old brown leather hat held together by every kind of pin and wire known to man, which barely covers his head. Now, Rufus was the type of person who would find salt interesting. I mean, if you and he sat down in a restaurant while waiting on your food, Rufus would pick up the salt shaker, pour some in the palm of his hand and proceed to be amazed.
He is one of the only people in my life that I ever saw stop to get something to eat on the way to a restaurant.
I guess he just could not pass up that chicken going round and round on the rotisserie at that gas station. It was sort of like a ride at the fair. You know you should not get on it but you just can’t help yourself.
Rufus spent most of his life as a mechanic and he was blessed with the ability to take apart and put together a car in nothing flat.
The only problem was, like so many other people, he would often start one project without finishing another. He had a habit of just piling all the parts he removed up in one big pile in the middle of the garage floor. I don’t know how he ever found anything.
I was amazed at how he could reach in and pick out just the right part from the pile to replace it in a particular car. At least I hope he was able to do that, or there are a lot of Fords and Chevrolets and a Volkswagen or two running around with the wrong pieces inside.
Rufus always had an abundance of cars awaiting service as he called it. They were up on blocks in the yard around his house. He referred to them as wealth waiting to happen. Many of them, the owners had given up on long ago but Rufus just could not let them breath their last breath, so he would tinker on them until they would cough and sputter their way through town yet again.
Whenever he found himself needing to take a ride, he would just jump in whatever car was running. I once asked him how he kept up with all of the license fees on all these cars.
He told me it was simple: he moved the tag to whichever car happened to be running.
Rufus married young to another one of my cousins. Of course, they weren’t related but their kids are.
Madeleen is one of the finest women to ever walk the earth; I have never seen anyone who could swing a baseball bat quite like her.
Rufus has got pretty good at ducking over the years, too. One time Madeleen and Rufus decided to take a vacation. They had it all figured out because they had gotten an invite to one of those all-inclusive resorts where they make you sit through the sales pitch.
Madeleen decided to make it worth their while. While they were getting a sales pitch from the resort, she would give a sales pitch on her Busy Bee cosmetics that she makes herself at home to the salesperson.
She truly believes in the value of her full line of soaps, powders and make up.
Rufus is living proof that the stuff makes you look better. After using the soap, his skin tightened up making him look ten years younger. He got a bright red glow in his cheeks. Of course after they pulled all the stingers out he deflated a bit and the red glow went away after about a week, but for a day or two there he looked like he was ten years younger, bigger but younger.
While most folks have to sit through a long drawn out sales pitch, once Madeleen got up, threw a barber’s cloth around the sales person’s neck and began to rub on her facial crème. That was all she wrote.
That salesman was so enthralled over the facial, he stopped the presentation right then and there and showed Rufus and Madeleen the door.
They didn’t have to hear another word from him the whole weekend. Of course, the last time they saw the salesman he did look ten years younger.